A medical orderly in the Gulag, who in reality had no medical training at all before coming to the camp. The camp Doctor instructed him to lie about his literary background and claim to be a medical orderly so he could work in the sick bay and write poetry on the side. When Shukhov visits Kolya in the morning, Kolya is vaguely sympathetic, but he seems more concerned with his poetry than Shukhov’s ailment. Kolya’s concern for his art over Shukhov’s real life problems alludes to Solzhenitsyn’s critique of art and artists that do not deal with the real suffering of individual people.
The timeline below shows where the character Kolya appears in One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Section1 (Shukhov wakes up to Kolya taking Shukhov’s temperature)
...completely white and makes Shukhov uncomfortable. The doctors are all still sleeping, but Shukhov discovers Kolya Vdovushkin, the medical assistant, sitting at a clean little table. Kolya is writing poetry, although... (full context)
Section 2 (Kolya takes Shukhov’s Temperature to Volkovoy’s search)